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Book Reviews: Lucky You and Roadkill

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As soon as you open Carl Hiaasen’s Lucky You, you know this book is going to be different. You know how usually a book begins with that lame paragraph full of legalese about how everything in the work is fiction? His paragraph ends with this: “although the indiscriminate dining habits of the blue crab and the commom black vulture are accurately portrayed … there is no approved dental use for WD-40, a trademarked product.”

Then the novel itself starts. JoLayne Lucks has purchased a Florida state Lotto ticket at the Grab N Go. Her number each week for five years has been 17-19-22-24-27-30, each number representing the age at which “she had jettisoned a burdensome man,” Hiaasen writes. But now she has finally won — $28 million! — and thus “in spite of themselves, (the men) had finally amounted to something.”

But not so fast. Things are never so easy in novels written by Hiaasen. Two dim-wits who have started their own militia also had the winning Lotto ticket number. But they had little interest in splitting the money with anyone.

Besides, it’s all just another government conspiracy to keep white men like them from getting their fair share of dough, right? So they start plotting how to get their money and it involves breaking more than a few laws. Meanwhile, a newsaper feature reporter is sent by his scared, feeble editor to check out whether there is a story in Lucks winning the ticket.

And this is all just in the first 15 pages. Later the reporter joins with Lucks to retrieve her ticket from the militiamen. These are men who become way too fascinated by a Hooters waitress and might be scary if they weren’t so darn dumb.

As with most of his books, Hiaasen takes some well-deserved pot shots at developers. This time he also mocks people making money off bizarre religious aparitions, such as “the road stain Jesus,” where the holy figure can be seen in an oil stain.

While the breakneck pace of weird action and odd plot twists slows down at times, it is enough to keep a reader entertained, laughing and wondering just where Hiaasen is taking the story next.

Throughout the writing is sharp and concise. It is easy to see why Hiaasen is such a success as a columnist for The Miami Herald.

There are few writers who can crank out stories as consistently bizarre as Hiaasen. Kinky Friedman, though, is such a man. Some may remember him from his band, The Jewboys, and he is currently getting attention for running for governor of Texas. But he is also gaining fame for for his series of novels featuring, well, himself.

In Roadkill, he tries to help his old friend, Willie Nelson, out of a jam. While touring, Nelson’s bus accidently runs over an Indian. A few months later Nelson is told he will soon die as a result of the accident. While Nelson is acting like this is nothing unusual, Nelson’s pals ask Friedman to help figure out just what the hell is going on.

So between joints and other usual Freidman weirdness – think Tom Robbins without the big words- Kinky solves the mystery.

Caution: I should mention the writing is a bit vulgar. If you find shocking the title of Freidman’s books – Texas Hold ‘Em : How I Was Born in a Manger, Died in the Saddle, and Came Back as a Horny Toad – you will want to pass on this book. But if you want a quick easy read which will make you smile as you get a contact high then this book is for you.

This review was originally printed in Mindjack. When not attending classes, this journalist-turned-aspiring educator blogs and sleeps.
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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.